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Saturday, October 31, 2009

To Live and Breathe a Garden

This past summer my husband's niece and her boyfriend scored a job as garden builders and keepers for a saw mill in Montana. This family owned mill wanted to provide farm fresh food to it's employees on a regular basis. The kids are very earth oriented and this was something they dove headlong into. The lived on-site and this was their job everyday all day long.

It gets colder earlier and stays cold later into the spring in Montana, so they concocted ways to extend the season on both ends to accommodate a variety of more tender veggies.


This photo shows the saw mill in the background. The scale of this garden must have been enormous. If they do it next year I may have to go check it out myself. You know I am intrigued by huge gardens.

Here is my mother-in-law, Vonda, and Tracey harvesting something out in the garden. Huge garden to weed.

I had a few rows of beans that were only 10 feet long. I cannot imagine picking beans when you have rows this long. Yikes, what an undertaking.

The number of unique and standard crops was staggering. The kids said that many folks that received the bounty from the harvest didn't know what a lot of it was.

They had drip irrigation which made water conservation much easier. Jesse, Tracy's boyfriend, has done some large scale gardening in the past. These kids are only in their early twenties, it took me till my thirties to even have a grasp of some of the things they did this summer.

They obviously had a successful season. The garden grew with amazing results and I must say I am impressed. It's hard to impress me and they certainly did. If they do it again, I am going to see.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Major Milestone!

Today marks a major milestone on our little farm. We got our first egg! This means many things to me. First, it means I am not a failure at chicken rearing. That's a huge relief! Second, it means that my chickens are progressing as planned and that winter is not going to impede their ability to earn their keep. And third, homegrown breakfast is right around the corner. I am so excited. This picture shows the freshly layed egg in front of a fake egg placed there to teach them where to lay.

I have absolutely no idea who layed the first egg. It could be one of many. About half of the girls show signs of being ready and only one has been singing the 'egg' song that I have heard. They are 21 weeks old today.

I honestly believe it to be this one or one who looks just like her. The Black Austalorps have been the first to vocalize their rediness!

It could also be one of the Barred Rocks, they seem to show the most interest in the nesting boxes. Maybe I need a nursery camera in the hen house to tell me for sure. But that would be what a chicken crazy person would do.  I am not ready for you all to know that about me just yet.

Isn't it a pretty little thing? Perfect, if not a touch on the petite side. But I can't expect huge ones from a brand new layer can I? Poor girl, this must have been startling. I would freak if I all of the sudden layed an egg.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Natural Pest Control

Not three weeks ago we had a day where it was 94F in the afternoon and 34F the next morning. The bugs and critters never know what to think when it happens overnight like that. Everything goes into survival mode and anything can happen.

Here is my newest form of bug control. These ladies can eat their weight in bugs everyday. And tomatoes, but that is another story. I love to watch them forage for good stuff to eat. They eat weed seeds, and probably anything I plant in seed form in the spring. We will have to see how that goes. I may need to fence them out of certain areas.  But for bugs they have been amazing. We finally let them out to free range when they were 11 weeks old and fortunately that has worked well for us. When we finally have eggs they ought to be fantastic and the color of gold.

Having had such crazy and extreme changes in weather has meant gross things like gnats hatched out again when the weather went from 27F to 60F. I would have rather had 40F and kept the gnats at bay. Hard to be outside cleaning things up when you breath those gross little things in. But the chickens have found them and are doing their best to get rid of  them. The gnats coat the trunks of certain trees in my yard and the girls have figured out which ones. Thank goodness. Prizes for the chick who eats the most.

This is not the best picture but you can see strings of the gnats hanging from it. The bark is completely covered in blue bottle gnats and it looks like the tree is crawling. Once is freezes solid and stays that way for a few days again this will all be over. Sad to say I am ready for it to freeze again. Yuck!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Some little something has me so intrigued with beekeeping. Leah, over at The Burbs and the Bees is a beekeeper and I can say with all honesty that she motivates me even more to want to do this. My husband thinks I am nuts. "Just call the local beekeeping company and see if they will store some on our property. There won't be any work on our part that way." Well it's the work aspect that intrigues me so. I want to inspect the hive and see the bees busily at work, improving my environment. Did you know having a backyard beeyard will help to keep this species healthier and intact. They are in trouble in the USA and many crops depend solely on honey bees to polinate the fields. Your food needs them. My food needs them. They will also help my garden look even better next year.

I am 2/3 of the way through the book in the photo and it is nearly a 'can't put down' kind of book for me. I actually thought reading it would quell my curiosity but it has only made it more profound. More to come as my winter research continues. I need to finish this book so I can read the Raising Mini Donkeys book that came in the mail yesterday. Three more weeks until the boys come to their new home! Can't wait.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

UPink Vineyard, I want one at my house!

On Monday I drove to a UPick Vineyard about one hour south of me. What a cool place. For years I wondered where it was and this year I did something about it. I found the place!

This vineyard has been here since the 70's and is very nicely established. The vines are beautifully trellised and well taken care of. This particular vineyard grows Concord grapes.

One can come here to pick anytime during daylight hours and it truly is a serve yourself place.

There are two wagons complete with tall flag to ease finding them. You take your own buckets and pick until your heart's content. Two five gallon buckets equals one bushel. One bushel equals $5. You just mail them the check for what ever you picked. What a great example of trust in folks they don't even know. I seriously doubt that the grape picking variety will stiff them but you never know.

I had actually intended to pick two bushels worth to make grape juice. I got bored one bushel in.

So I picked just the two buckets worth I had and called it a day. Then the real work began at home. I have one bucket juiced and canned and the other bucket will be done tonight. It is amazing how crazy sweet these grapes are. I cringe to add sugar to the recipe the from my canning guide so I cut it way down. Good stuff, and as fresh as it gets.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My New Babies

Here they are! Down payment has been paid, the weaning will commence the last week of October! This cute little guy is Gator. The striping on his legs is where his moniker originates.

Here is a picture of me standing with one of their mom's and the two babies. Wanted you all to see how small they were. The boys should be 32" and 33-34" tall at full height. They are so very sweet and really love attention!

The boys will need to be cut when they are roughly one year old. So spring will be their unmanhood date. Poor fellas! But I don't plan to breed them so gelding them is a must.

The gal that has them now says they will be even sweeter when they have been handled a lot. I can't wait to play with them. They really are darling. Last night I got online and ordered halters and lead ropes along with a must have book for raising miniature donkeys. I am big on research so that will be how I spend the next couple weeks.

He is a closer look at Apollo, he is our other new baby! They really are so fun and I don't even have them home yet. We have already begun plans to expand the barnyard corral to accommodate both donkeys and pygmy goats. They need to be kept separated but near so the donkeys, who play rougher, won't hurt the goats.

I can't wait for the first week of November, that's when they come home to my house. Now we need a couple little tiny pigs and maybe some Dexter cows and the mini barnyard will be complete.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mini Donkeys in Our Future?

Saturday morning Doyle and I are going to look at a pair of these darling little guys. Mini Donkeys! Yeah us! They are half brothers who will only grow to 32 inches tall give or take an inch. They are now 3 months old and will be ready to come live with us at the end of the month. Guess we will be retrofitting the barn again. They will need to be kept separate from the pygmy goats because donkeys play a little rougher than goats. Boy would they give Ollie a run for his money. I can't wait to see them and will take lots of pictures so I can share them with all of you. I can see a mini donkey pair pulling a cart in the Council 4th of July parade. We are on our way to full fledged farm yet!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This is Why We Garden

Meet Baylee..... our 19 month old granddaughter. She really loves the goats and eating tomatoes fresh out of the garden. Not a big fan of the chickens.

This summer's garden season has nearly killed us. We built a huge new garden and quite possibly took on a little more than we bargained for. Don't tell my husband I just admitted that a little. He would smirk. But towards the end, when all I do is can and water and can and mow, I often ask myself why exactly we do what we do. Well, here is the epitome of why. You have to love being able to hand a child a fresh tomato, rub the dirt off and tell them to have at it. And they do, because it tastes good. And it's sun warmed and yummy. And shhhhhh...... it's good for them too. Can't say that one too loudly.

Doyle grew what he hoped would be giant pumpkins. They turned out pretty well, not quite as giant as he would have liked but they are still huge to little people. There are three on the vine and they are about to go to their homes on a porch to be carved for that spooky holiday coming up. Baylee has hers all picked out.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

2009 Blotanical Awards

I would like to take this opportunity to thank every one who participated in the Blotanical 2009 Awards process. I personally had a blast nominating and then voting on the blogs and bloggers I think were most deserving of the awards. Blotanical has opened up access to so many wonderful blogs and getting to cyber meet bloggers has been an added bonus I had not expected. Competition was tight, in all categories there were great blogs nominated and it was very hard to choose just one.

I was thrilled and awed to see my blog, Idaho Small Goat Garden, had earned the achievement in three categories. Thank you all for voting for me I know I had difficulty choosing! I would also like to thank each and every one of you who personally sent me a note expressing their congratulations, I promise to get back to you all soon. You all have made garden blogging fun for me and I so enjoy reading all of yours. The garden season is coming to an end here in my neck of the woods and I am so darn happy about that I cannot express it correctly. I am ready for a rest. Then I can read garden blogs all winter while enjoying nice meals made from all my summertime hard work!

Congrats to all those wonderful blogs! Please keep them coming, it keeps me sane in the winter and keeps me motivated in the summer!

About This Blog

We started this blog in Feb. of 2009 to help us stay motivated and to track our progess in the garden. We live on 5 acres surrounded by Idaho farmland. We have wildlife galore and are attempting to attract more in the bird catagory. This is our journal. Welcome!


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